Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 23
  2. Negative: 1 out of 23
  1. Stay far, far away unless you can handle the copious amounts of blood--and agonizing psychological problems-- that its participants face on what seems like a daily basis.
  2. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    A gently and genuinely observed film whose subject is a garish, artificial display of mayhem.
  3. Reviewed by: Milton Kent
    What the film does, brilliantly, is provoke the intelligent fan to wonder if there's a limit to how far the proceedings can go.
  4. Reviewed by: Chad Damiani
    Professional wrestling might not be real, folks -- but, after watching this poignant and simple documentary, you might start questioning where the make-believe begins.
  5. 83
    Frighteningly, grippingly real.
  6. You don't have to love WWF scrapping to appreciate this movie.
  7. 80
    All the macho men who let down their guard for Blaustein can be proud of the loving deconstruction of violence-as-entertainment that resulted.
  8. A center ring extravaganza of smackdown movie entertainment
  9. 75
    Isn't a slick documentary; some of it feels like Blaustein's home movie about being a wrestling fan. But it has a hypnotic quality.
  10. 75
    Suggests that professional wrestling is more than a multibillion-dollar industry: It's also a way of life.
  11. 75
    Doesn't shy from the ugly side, though it's far from the no-holds-barred exposé being touted in the ads.
  12. A skillful exposition of the pain of pro wrestling, and the high price participants pay in terms of physical and ego injuries.
  13. The match winners and losers may be preordained, but these modern-day gladiators bleed plenty of real blood.
  14. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Wrestling gets in America's face and Blaustein gets in wrestling's face. It's a fascinating tango.
  15. 70
    A behind-the-scenes documentary that manages to be unabashedly sympathetic without being a puff piece.
  16. Reviewed by: David Davis
    Blaustein's journey seems not to have shaken his convictions; he still embraces pro wrestling, warts and all.
  17. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    Takes an easy target and turns it into something naggingly weird.
  18. Connects the antics of professional wrestlers with their lives out of the ring with such compassion, humor and perception that the result is utterly captivating.
  19. 70
    Wants to blend thrills and pathos, getting at the many sides of what is, as Mr. Blaustein describes it, a carny act.
  20. Often has the rambling feeling of a home movie Blaustein made for his buddies.
  21. Doesn't flinch from the serious stuff.
  22. 50
    Surprisingly lacking in revelatory moments.
  23. Reviewed by: Edvins Beitiks
    Trouble is, it's too close-up.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 6 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Feb 22, 2013
    Adult professional wrestling fans aren't stupid, we know wrestling is fake and the outcomes are pre-determined. What none fans don't realize is why we like it. It's the drama, the pageantry, the cheesy stories, the costumes, and most of all the action. Yes, it's pre-determined and choreographed, but you still need to be charismatic and athletic, and night after night these guys put their bodies on the line just for our entertainment. People have been killed and paralyzed doing this, so to anyone who says it's not real and takes no skill, I point to this documentary. Beyond The Mat looks into the lives of these guys outside the ring and show the ancient Terry Funk, whose body has been ravaged from years in the ring. He can barely walk anymore, but still has to get in there and has to do this because it's all he knows and what he loves. Jake "The Snake" Roberts is also featured and he talks about how eight years on the road with WWE made him a neglectful father, a bad husband, and a drug addict. Roberts says between the pain and the constant moving around he could never have done it without drugs! Finally, they look at Mick Foley AKA Mankind, Dude Love, Cactus Jack and show how he's this normal family man and while his family knows it's for show, how much they worry. In the last 30 years, hundreds of pro-wrestlers have died under the age of 45, most of them due to the physical trauma they've put their bodies through or the dependence on drugs that has resulted from it. If those were NFL or MLB stars instead, there would be massive reform and congressional intervention, but the truth is no one cares about these guys, except of course their families, friends, and fans. Beyond The Mat is important because it shows just what these guys put on the line and just how little the people at the top care. Full Review »